American University campus at Bormla set for approval, but dorm decision postponed

AUM campus in Bormla set for approval, but controversial dormitory building postponed by six months after objections

The proposed dormitory (Photomontage submitted by AUM)
The proposed dormitory (Photomontage submitted by AUM)

The Planning Authority’s planning directorate is recommending the approval of the American University of Malta campus in Bormla, now set for a decision by the PA board on 12 September.

But no decision will be taken on the proposed dormitory in St Paul’s Square, with the developers being asked to present a separate application in six months’ time.

Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield recently asked the AUM to consider the Fortizza tas-Salvatur in Kalkara or the Palazz tal-Kaptan tal-Galjuni at the Birgu waterfront, as dormitories for AUM students. His proposal was supported by NGO Flimkien Ghall Ambjent Ahjar which remained critical on the rest of the project, warning that it will lead to the privatisation of the Cottonera waterfront and the loss of open space at the heart of the Three Cities.

The view as it is today (Photo submitted by AUM)
The view as it is today (Photo submitted by AUM)
The extension of the knight's building, set for approval (Photomontage submitted by AUM)
The extension of the knight's building, set for approval (Photomontage submitted by AUM)

The decision will commit the development of most of the site, with an administration block in steel and glass, located between the Knights’ Building and the British Building, which will rise to 19.5m. The building is proposed on an existing public staircase, resting on inclined columns.

Another view of the proposed dormitory (Photomontage submitted by AUM)
Another view of the proposed dormitory (Photomontage submitted by AUM)

An additional floor is proposed at the top of the original Knights’ building in steel and glass. Another building located along Dock 1 adjacent to the Knights’ Building will have the same height of the adjacent Knights’ Building. Photomontages show that the new building set for approval will obstruct views of the historical fortifications.

The PA directorate’s case officer noted that the design of the proposed dormitory “does not complement the rest of the proposed university facility”. In view of this “the design, massing and height of the building” has to be amended.

Additional floors on the knight's building, also set for approval (Photomontage submitted by AUM)
Additional floors on the knight's building, also set for approval (Photomontage submitted by AUM)

A new application has to be submitted within six months “to enable further assessment in terms of massing, height, architectural treatment and cultural heritage”.  The approval of the application will require the endorsement of the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, which had objected to the original plans.

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